Were you in mourning when the amazing "Reading Rainbow" TV show called it quits in 2009 after 26 years of service? Grown up you and your own kids can now delight in RR's return as a super spiffy iPad app/subscription service. . . and in a deliriously funny song parody that could prove the novelty hit of the summer.
Rainbow App-titude: Hosted, as was the public TV show, by LeVar Burton, the eye-candy rich iPad app (launched this morning) offers access to hundreds of books from noted children's book publishers. You can see Burton present the app below. There's the user option to read or have the story read to you at your own pace. Just tapping or swiping the screen moves the page -easy for kids as small as three.
Lots of the colorfully illustrated stories also feature hotspots you tap to animate. This morning, I had"Hello Baby Beluga" waving his fin and disappearing/reappearing at different spots in the ocean. Can't wait to share this with the kid-lets!
When first opened, the app asks your child's age range and sex and requests you pick "3 things you like" from categories like Wizards & Fairies, Ocean Adventures, Things That Go, Animals, Sports and Space and Beyond. That leads to a screen populated with several floating islands. Tap on one - Action Adventure & Magical Tales, Genius Academy, Animal Kingdom, My Friends My Family - to summon book selections fine tuned to the user's reading level and interest. plus related videos hosted by Burton (licensed from the TV show.)
Reading a book to completion earns electronic stickers. Selections can be stashed in a virtual book bag for fast retrieval or returned through an on-screen slot. Just like going to the library!
To lure us in and give a taste, the app download is free. So, too, is one book of your choice and a bunch of the short video clips. After that, unlimited access to the site costs $9.99 a month - less than many a children's tome goes for these days.
Musical Fun 'n Games: There are some pretty funny music parodies of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen on Jimmy Fallon's new "Blow Your Pants Off" album - all bits originally performed on his late night TV show.
But none can top his (and The Roots) amazing riffing on "Reading Rainbow" re-imagined as a vintage performance by The Doors on the Ed Sullivan show and sounding suspiciously like "When the Music's Over."
I was on the floor in stitches as Fallon/Morrison howls ominiously about "The Indian in the Cupboard" and quotes lines from "Goodnight Moon." Adult leaning alt-rock radio stations like WXPN have started playing the track. And I swear the thing improves with repeated listens, as you start anticipating Morrison-modulated punches like "good night noises, EV-er-RE-WHERRE."